The Re-Run Relationship

Ah. Reruns. This may age me, but back in the day, before we had Netflix and OnDemand television (and walked three miles in the snow to get to school…) we were captive audiences to whatever show the cable kings chose for us. Sometimes, like in the case of the entire lineup for TGIF, it was entertainment gold. But other times, well, let’s just say, tv wasn’t pretty. The absolute worst were bad reruns.

So how does this relate to dating? At a good first date we hear a lot about relationships. And often, as we listen to someone gush about their new boo, we experience the distinct feeling, we’ve heard this before…and often, with time, the relationship plays out start to finish in a strikingly similar way that the last did. It leaves us wondering: are people stuck in rerun relationships?

The short answer is yes. It happens to all of us. It’s the reality check your friends give you when they say, “you sure have a type!” or the feeling you have 3 months into a new partnership when you have the same argument you had with your last main squeeze, or you squint your eyes and realize all your exes look the same. I found out I was in a rerun when my brother met a new boyfriend and remarked, “you realize you’re pretty much dating Joe again. This guy just has an accent.” No. I had not realized this. Rerun-ing can smack you in the face.

On a certain level, it makes sense. People have an almost instinctive draw to a specific type of partner. This is based on early environmental factors and relationships we’ve had with our parents or caregivers, siblings, friends, and the view we develop of ourselves as a result. It shapes the package we look for in someone else: a certain dynamic, a physical look, a personality type, someone’s values, the type of love someone gives or needs from us. Likely, the whole shabang.

People have an almost instinctive draw to a specific type of partner. This is based on early environmental factors and relationships we’ve had in the past

So are these reruns a good or a bad thing? On the one hand, it is completely normal for these trends to happen, and it actually plays in your favor when you are seeking out healthy patterns and the right type of person. If that’s you, rerun-ing away with equally wonderful partners, keep at it!

However, if your rerun is leaving you stuck with people that are not the right fit and imploding (or exploding) at a certain point, you may be unconsciously attracted to people and dynamics that are harmful for you.  If this is the case, it’s time to stop, throw the remote out the window, and check the strategies below.

  1. Take a minute and reflect. Think about the romantic relationships you have had thus far. What worked for you? What didn’t? Are there any patterns that emerge?

  2. Get support. Ask trusted friends or family about your past relationships. What did they notice? If friends and family aren’t available or have trouble being objective, enlist a therapist or a coach to help you work on these things.

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